irish prospects

One of the country's best forwards stars at first-ever women's AFL Europe Combine

Donegal star Geraldine McLaughlin caught the eye, as did recently-retired Kerry ace Sarah Houlihan and Dublin’s Lauren Magee.

DONEGAL STAR FORWARD Geraldine McLaughlin dominated the first-ever women’s AFL Europe Combine in Dublin this weekend. 

geraldine-mclaughlin-with-emma-spillane Geraldine McLaughlin facing Cork in August 2018. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

McLaughlin — widely regarded as one of the best ladies football forwards in the country — was the fastest of the 13 players on trial, in the both the 20m sprint (3.22 seconds) and agility test (8.56 seconds), as per the AFL’s official website.

Those times would have placed the 26-year-old second in each test at October’s NAB AFLW Draft Combine in Melbourne, and understandably immediately put her on AFLW recruiters’ radars for the 2021 season. 

With lists closed and 18 Irishwomen ready to go for the 2020 season, none of the hopefuls were in a position to be signed this weekend.

aflw-draft-combine After testing in Australia, Wall did so again on home soil. AAP / PA Images AAP / PA Images / PA Images

Though lethal forward McLaughlin — a 2014 All-Ireland club champion with Termon and two-time Team of the League award recipient — has surely raised interest Down Under, with her kicking skills impressing former Carlton star Ciaran Byrne.

The Louth man “now oversees the women’s Australian Football development programme in Ireland,” according to the AFL website.

Another star forward, recently-retired Kerry ace Sarah Houlihan also caught the eye as she registered a Combine-best level 18 in the YoYo Test (that would have comfortably won the Australian Combine).

lauren-magee Dublin's Lauren Magee attended the Combine. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Dublin All-Star Lauren Magee, Meath ace Vicki Wall — who flew out to the Melbourne trial with Olivia Divilly and Saoirse Noonan — and Roscommon’s Jenny Higgins were among others to impress.

Several ladies football stars have landed deals through talent-spotting agency CrossCoders, with the AFL now hoping to get involved with overseas recruitment directly.

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